I have just sat down in my basket with a small floral plate of buttered crumpets and a cup of fine earl grey, in anticipation of having elevenses shortly followed by a light lunch, afternoon high tea, a lavish supper and probably a few tea cakes with cheese before bed, which has put me in mind of the next book to feature in our classic picture book archive...
The Very Hungry Caterpillar is an instantly recognisable title and it has been on the shelves of libraries and book stores across the world for a staggering 42 years (NOW THAT's OLD). It was brought to us by the magical pen of the incredibly talented Eric Carle and is currently published by Puffin.
This simply laid out book follows a caterpillar as he eats his way through the days of the week. He begins as a small egg on a leaf in the light of the moon. And in the daylight he hatches out in the warmth of the sun. Then, through each turn of the page he munches through different types of food and emerges at the end as a beautiful butterfly.
|I always favoured the sausage and the pin wheel lolly pop!|
The book is both educational and fun, explaining the process from egg to butterfly aswell as having a counting element which is explored through the various meals of the caterpillar.
‘On Monday he ate through one apple, but he was still hungry. On Tuesday he ate through two pears, but he was still hungry. On Wednesday he ate through three plums, but he was still hungry.’
And so on, throughout the tale.
Eaten holes in the pages give the book an added element of fun and the text and images are simple and easy enough to follow for our very youngest of story lovers.
Eric Carle admits ‘One day I was punching holes with a hole puncher into a stack of paper, and I thought of a bookworm and so I created a story called 'A Week with Willi the Worm'. Then my editor suggested a caterpillar instead and I said 'Butterfly!' That's how it began.’
Carle’s artwork is very distinctive and he uses a unique style of collage utilizing hand painted papers which are individually cut and then layered.
Apparently 30 million copies have been sold worldwide. A little bird told me that that is equivalent to having sold a copy every minute since it was first published and considering that was in 1969 I’m sure you’d agree that if that’s true, it’s pretty incredible! Wowza! The book has been reproduced in over 50 languages and on its 40th anniversary in 2009 Google adapted its logo appropriately.
Snuffling through those pages has made me a tad peckish! All that talk of chocolate cake, pickles, cheese, salami, sausage, cherry pie. Dear oh dear, I am positively rumbling in the tum department and drooling at the chops. Now where on earth has that cat butler gone to I'm sure there's a Dairylea Dunker at the back of the fridge somewhere which needs eating! .